12 days is just about the maximum number of days we can stay in Sydney (without getting sick of the place or getting broke first after eating out so much).
It’s a wonderful cosmopolitan place, with lots to see and do, even for kids. However, most things are just too expensive. Shopping is about 30-40% more costly than Singapore (unless you limit your shopping from only Target, K-mart or thrift shops) and eating out is pricey. Besides there is hardly any service to talk about. Shopping is only fun when it comes to fresh produce, like meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables, however try not to even consider imported produce. I still find it extremely ridiculous that ginger (obviously not grown in Australia) costs like AUD$50 per kg!
Apart from little peeves like the above, it is still a nice place to go for a family vacation. The region offers a vast variety of nature and wildlife attractions, extremely apt for children who love nature and animals.
For K, there is one memorable thing that he remembers fondly from our trip…
The best thing… from Rachel T on Vimeo.
To the west of Sydney lies the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains region. With its temperate climate, coupled with beautiful scenery, a trip to Sydney will not be complete without a visit to the Blue Mountains. The close proximity of the Blue Mountains to Sydney (about 1 hour plus drive away) makes it ideal for a day trip, however, due to the lack of time, we only managed to view 3 sites and would have probably need a few more days to experience the many scenic sites of the region.
We stopped by a town Leura in Blue Mountains for lunch. Instead of walking around town to look what slowly explore what other cafes had to offer, we were hungry and fully trusted the map (that we purchase from the Blue Mountains information stop) for its recommendation. We ended up having a simple sandwich lunch, french fries and nuggets (for K) for AUD$40, another one of many over-priced meals that we experienced during this trip.
We went on to visit the Three Sisters, a famous rock formation in Blue Mountains. A little less magnificent than I envisioned it to be, maybe the cliffs are slowly being slowly broken up by erosion and may one day be eroded away completely? Regardless, I still appreciate the wonders of nature with the view of the beautiful scenery.
Our last stop in the Blue Mountains was taking rides on the scenic skyway, cable car, railway and a short nature trail on the broadwalks of a rainforest.
We drove back to the city thereafter and met Uncle Nick for our dinner for our last night in Sydney. Was not feeling too adventurous after a couple of expensive and disappointing meals in Sydney. So we ended up having our dinner in the same Italian restaurant in Darling Harbour, that same one that we dined in the last 2 nights. The four of us shared 1kg of bbq ribs, steak, 2 pasta dishes and were fully satiated after the wonderful and reasonably-priced meal.
The weather turned a little chillier on our last few days in Sydney, as it started raining in the morning of Day 10. From the hot 28 – 30 degrees celsius that we experienced the last couple of days, the temperature went down to about a windy 20 degrees celsius.
Australian MuseumWe had to re-schedule our plans to visit Luna Park in the late morning and went instead to the Australian Museum. The wealth of exhibits encompassing natural history is really impressive, I like that there is an interactive area; Kids Space, specially for kids under 5s.
We headed over to Luna Park after lunch despite a drizzle, we figured that the rain might stop and there will still be a couple of rides in the amusement park that will be sheltered from the rain. When we got there, we realised that Luna Park was closing in about 45 minutes time at 4.00 p.m. We also could not plan to return the next day as its opening days were only on Friday – Monday. So we tried our best to fully maximise our visit to the amusement park.
I realised that there is a similar amusement park like this in Melbourne in St. Kilda’s, and we never really bothered to visit the place when we were there about 10 years back. Guess a lot of things change when you have an additional little person in your life. Park entry is free, but the cost of taking the rides were really pricey, about AUD$10 per ride if no special passes were purchased. But since being little has got its privileges, (K’s admission to many of our visits to the various places of interest has been FOC, since he is below 4 years old). we got a special pass for K that cost $20.00. We specifically chose rides that he could either take himself or were allowed an accompanying adult without an extra charge; i.e., the carousel.
Coincidentally, the carousel is also K’s favorite ride at most amusement parks that we visit. Besides the rain got a little heavier, so dh and I made our money’s worth by taking turns to ride the carousel with K. The little boy was so thrilled that he got to sit the ride for at least 4 times over. As there was only 20 minutes left before closing time, we braved the drizzle and ventured further into the park to search for another ride that will be suitable for K. Overall, I think we really made our money’s worth with all the rides that K took, it only averaged about $2.00 per ride. Plus, it is really quite nice to be the few customers left in the park with hardly any other people around to vie for the rides.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
Featherdale is one of the best wildlife parks that we have visited thus far, and the experience here was much better than Sydney Wildlife Park in Darling Harbour. The park had a vast variety of Australian animals, the tamer ones like the wallaby and kangaroos roamed about freely in their areas and they are so docile that we could actually pat them! K was so keen in patting the animals that he asked me if he could also touch the ones in their enclosure. He was all excited and co-operative until we met the ‘witching hour’ of 3 p.m. (not a good time, especially when he did not get his afternoon nap for the day) and started fussing till we got him an ice-cream to end his visit on a good note.
He fell fast asleep once we got back to the car and did not get up till an hour and a half later when we got back to The Rocks, north of Sydney city. As it started raining when we reach our next destination, dh had to brave the rain, ran to the nearest touristy shop to get an china-made umbrella that cost AUD$17.00! After spending so much for a lousy umbrella, we really regretted that we forgot to bring our own umbrella and K’s raincoat for this trip.
While waiting for the rain to stop, we went into a French bakery shop for some tea and hot chocolate. This was first time that K got to have a cup of hot chocolate by himself. Once the rain ended, we did the quintessential touristy thing of posing for photos at The Rock’s harbour, complete with the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. As we were walking on the wharf on the way back to the car, K started fussing and dh told him that the wharf will open up and swallow him up if he continued to misbehave. K thought for a while and said, “No such thing.” Well, looks like tall tales such as this sort will not really work too well with him. Good attempt though, dh
The highlight of our trip to Sydney has to be the day that we visited a farm, wildlife park and The Rocks (again) all in a single day. Not that I was the cruel parent that wanted to maximise our vacation by cramming too many activities for a tot in one day. But rather, rest for K was much easier to be scheduled in, when we took long drives to visit attractions out of the city. Being that easy traveller, K often took his naps in the car during our long drives and was full of energy when we got to our destination.
Animal Farm Dural
The visit to the farm in Dural, that was about an hour drive outside the city, provided many firsts for Kyle. We have been reading so much about farms, but never really got to experience it first hand. I was really looking forward to visit Golden Ridge animal farm, as it was a first time at a farm for me as well.
Our visit to the farm was the first time that K…
From this visit to the farm, dh and I realised that K has no fear at all for many kinds of animals. Often, fear is a learnt response for a child, it does help that adults around him show no fear for the animals and the child will learn to embrace new experiences / interaction with new animals.
To experience the golden sand and turquoise water of Australia’s most famous beach, we headed to Bondi Beach, just about 8km from the city centre.
For K, it was his first time experiencing such fine sand. He enjoyed scooping up the sand with his hands, running it through his fingers and kicking it around. Probably if I had brought his swimwear, shovel and bucket along, he would have no qualms staying on the beach for hours. We had to gently coaxed him into leaving the beach, and he was only willing to leave when Uncle Nick told him that daddy will bring him back here again.
After 3 days of packed schedules, I decided that K should take a breather so we kept our day easy and relaxing. K slept in till 10+ in the morning, while Grand-dad and Nana did more shopping for Uncle Nick’s home in Sydney.
We took a leisure walk to the nearest McD’s and K got his share of fast food for brunch, before returning to our 29th floor serviced apartment in the heart of Sydney’s city. We leisurely enjoyed the morning and spent some time taking in some cool breeze and the view of the city from the balcony of the apartment.
K and I made our way to Powerhouse museum in the afternoon. The Powerhouse museum is housed in an power station for Sydney’s old tram network and is one of Australia’s largest museum filled with interactive zones spanning technology, science and history. We did not visit the other exhibitions within the museum and headed straight for Zoe’s House Play Space.
One of the key attractions of this museum for kids 3-6 years old is the renowned Zoe’s House play space; an interactive installation encouraging cooperative and creative play.As it was a weekday afternoon, the play space was relatively empty except for 3 other kids sharing the area. K had a great time pretending he was a builder and getting someone to play alongside with him.